In the Fall of 1908, while acting as Chief Deputy Sheriff under Anton Mieseu, Sheriff of Ramsey Co. Minn., an Information of Insanity was filed in the Probate Court against Father Cunican (an assistant to Rev. Father Cosgrove of St. Vincent Church in St. Paul). Upon examination he was adjudged insane and in need of suitable care and treatment. Archbishop Ireland telephoned me to come and see him relative to this patient. He requested that he be conveyed to the Sister's Hospital located at St. Louis, Mo, an institution for the care of aged and demented Catholic clergymen, and that he be taken there by two Catholic boys, and that no handcuffs or other restraints be used on him, and to show him all consideration possible. I volunteered to convey him there, and be accompanied by Tom Carey, another deputy. Tom told a few saloon keeper friends of his trip and they gave him a couple of bottles and, with what he had taken on, he felt pretty good. Like "crime doesn't pay," whiskey on a trip doesn't do any good. At 8 o'clock that evening Carey and myself went to St. Joseph's Hospital where the patient was under guard. We helped the patient on with his coat, after a little persuasion. We took the train. I sat and humored him for several hours (he having a tendency to escape and wander away). At about two AM I became tired and asked Carey to watch him. At 4 o'clock AM, on approaching Oskaloosa, Iowa, the train slowed up, and when it stopped he leaped over Carey's legs and out he ran to the entrance of the train. The passenger sitting alongside of me gave me a push stating, "Your man is gone." On looking up I saw him jump the train. I gave Carey a push and, both of us after him, he ran into a Lumber Yard near the Station Depot and we lost him. We searched around the yard, on top and under lumberpiles, without success. Our next step was to go to the Catholic Church near by thinking that he might stray there. On reaching the church we found it open, and with matches at our command we again failed to find him. I then went to the Pastor's residence next door. There we learned nothing. He had not been there. I then sought the Sheriff's office, for assistance. The Sheriff said it was a little too early to phone around the county, and said the county was cob-webbed with wires, and we would get him. When daylight came he began to phone, and on the fourth ring he learned that our man had breakfast at a farm house at about six o'clock and 4 miles from town. I immediately rushed to a livery stable. There I got a team with a driver who thoroughly knew the country. At the farm-house, learned that after breakfast the patient took a road going north and running parallel to a Railroad track. (Fear overcame me, and my imagination strong, fearing he would jump a freight train and meet with some mischief, possibly killed, I took a vow that if he was killed, I would never return to St. Paul, and made a promise to say 100 Rosaries if I got my man.) We then proceeded along the road taken by him, making inquiry as we went along, at every house and of every person we met. In the afternoon, about 5 o'clock PM, we crossed a small river at a little store and learned that a man of such description had bought five cents worth of crackers. Continuing on several miles further, we caught up with a soft coal sump cart. The driver stated such a man as we described rode with him, that he dropped off at the home of an Irishman (the only Irishman in the country). We turned back, going about two miles. On reaching there I looked through the window, there saw my man. I entered without announcement, there sitting at the table eating his supper. On approaching him, I said to him, "Well, Father, you played me quite a trick." He responded, "You're a bad man and I don't want to talk to you." I led him to the buggy, placed him on the seat, and sat on him. After going some couple of miles, he commenced to wiggle, and I got up to see what was the matter. He jumped out of the buggy and ran like a deer. I pursued him, but could not gain on him. I then pulled out my gun and fired in the air two shots. He stopped and threw his hands up in the air. I took him to the buggy, sitting down, he on my lap, and my arms around his neck, and after going about 18 miles. I landed him in the County Jail for safe keeping, telling the Sheriff that I would call for him at 3:30 AM to take the 4 o'clock train to our destination. The next morning I put the cuffs on him (taking no chances with him). When nearing the Hospital, I asked the conductor if he would stop at a platform near there. He said no, that the train did not stop there during that season of the year. The Brakeman hearing my request, said to me that the Master-Mechanic of the Road's car was attached to the train. I went to that car, and a colored-porter came to the door, but he would not admit me, unless I sent in my card. I did so. When admitted, I came in contact with a little short red-faced Irishman named Herrington. I told him my troubles. He said, "go back to your car, and I will see what I can do and will let you know after passing the next station." After passing a few stations, he sent me word that I could get off, but must do so in a hurry. I agreed to this, and I got off quickly. The conductor was mad as a wet hen. Took my patient to the Hospital. Took a receipt for him. Oh what a relief. On going through the grounds to the gate, a voice from the building shouted, "Hello Sweetheart," slam bang went down a window. In proceeding a little further, the same voice, slam and bang, but I was not inclined to flirt. Finally reaching the City of St. Louis, we went to Tony Faust, where we had a Big Steak, with a few mugs of Atlas Beer, went to the show. The next day visited the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, met Tony Busch, had a good visit with him. He gave me one of his knives as a souvenir. The next day started back home. Sent the Archbishop my bill of expense, with a letter stating the facts of the trip. He mailed me his cheque, and a notation, "Frank you must have had a lot of trouble."
Six weeks later, this same patient escaped from the Hospital, followed the Mississippi River to New Orleans, there embarked on a Muleteer boat ( mules were being sent to Europe for the war ) and 4 months later was located in Dublin, Ireland. I would have liked to go and get him, but the County would not stand the expense. I kept my vow, said my 100 Rosaries and I tell you, I was glad when I ended saying them. O Lord I thought I never would find him. The Minneapolis papers stated an insane man got away from two Minneapolis Deputies . That helped some.
Why I Believe in Prayer
(Editor's Note: I have two versions of this story. One is in manuscript and was one of the stories Pip wrote for the amusement of his family. The other is in typescript and is part of a speech Pip apparently gave to the Sheriff's Department on March 10, 1939. He may have used portions of the same speech on July 11, 1945, when the Junior Pioneer Association held a Frank Robert, Jr. Night. The versions differ slightly in details. I have based this text on the manuscript version, the more circumstantial version, with a few additions and corrections from the typescript.)
Mules were being sent to Europe for the war: Which war was that? WWI was still a few years in the future in 1908.
100 Rosaries: My mother, Pip's granddaughter, Margaret Hansen Connors, has a couple of stories about the fulfillment of Pip's vow. The first is that he asked his wife, Mim, to help him by saying some of the rosaries. She refused. The second is that Mim asked him once how the rosaries were coming along and he answered that they were coming along just fine. He was saying a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers every chance he had and would depend on the Lord to string them together.
Minneapolis Deputies: Apparently, Pip had a very low opinion of Minneapolis in general and Minneapolis newspapers in particular.
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This site created by Harry E. Connors III
Music is Ah! Si Mon Moine Voulait Danser! sequenced by Barry Taylor
This page last modified on Wednesday, November 21, 2007